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Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland is launching the LegalTech Platform, offering applications supporting the work of corporate legal, financial and compliance departments

  • Poland
  • Press_Releases

10-07-2019

In July 2019 Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland launched the LegalTech Platform, which offers tools developed by the firm’s lawyers aimed at automating, simplifying and expediting the work of in-house lawyers, compliance officers, and other persons responsible for specific legal issues in companies. These tools provide support in everyday, repetitive tasks and also respond to needs arising under new legal regulations.

The applications were created on the basis of many years of experience of the law firm’s experts as well as identification of our clients’ specific business needs. As the creators of the platform say, the firm’s clients often stressed that they lacked solutions meeting current needs and relieving them from repetitive, everyday tasks.

According to Paweł Stykowski, head of the firm’s financial services and compliance team, who came up with the concept for the LegalTech Platform, “The platform contains tools intended to facilitate and streamline the handling of legal issues. The concept for the platform derives from practice. When I was the head of the legal department at an insurance company, I noticed that there were processes that could be automated. Certain questions and materials for verification frequently recur. It’s a bit of a waste of effort by attorneys on such repetitious tasks. While IT tools are not capable of replacing lawyers, they can nonetheless be very helpful in preliminary analysis of issues. This means that business owners receive concrete substantive assistance, and in-house lawyers can concentrate on the most important tasks. In developing the conception for our platform and the tools we will offer there, we spent many hours in discussions with our clients, seeking to identify their expectations. We wanted the functionalities to meet their day-to-day needs and the specifics of the industry, while providing ease, convenience, and safety for users. We are starting with the applications that seemed the most needed. Indeed, the process of identifying tax schemes is so complicated that it would be difficult to conduct it properly without an electronic assistant. Decisions on insurance outsourcing can be equally complicated. Our tools provide a helping hand guiding clients through these complexities.”

The tools were developed in response to actual problems and challenges faced by businesses, such as the obligation to report tax schemes. One of the tools available on the platform helps identify whether given arrangements qualify as a reportable tax scheme. It is designed for all entities obligated to report tax schemes.

As Anna Derdak, head of the tax practice at Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland, explained, “The amended Tax Ordinance in force in Poland since 1 January 2019 provides for mandatory disclosure rules (MDR), i.e. the obligation to report information on tax schemes to the head of the National Revenue Administration. Failure to report information and data on tax schemes to the relevant authorities, or late filing, is threatened with fines, which in 2019 may run as high as PLN 21,600,000. Meanwhile, data from the Ministry of Finance show that from the beginning of this year through the end of March, taxpayers filed 702 notices of tax schemes, but most of them contained errors. Sometimes the description of the scheme is limited to a couple of sentences, which does not comply with the regulations or the expectations of the tax authorities. Statistics for the second quarter of the year have not been released yet.” She also stressed that the tools prepared by the firm make it easier and faster to analyze the regulations, guiding users through the conditions one by one. Significantly, the .pdf file generated when the process is complete documents how the analysis was conducted.

IPBOX Screen

This tool helps identify whether a taxpayer can apply the preferential rate of taxation at 5% of income from qualified intellectual property rights earned since 1 January 2019. IP Box is aimed at all payers of personal income tax or corporate income tax conducting activity qualifying as research and development. To enjoy the IP Box tax preference, the taxpayer must meet statutory and record-keeping conditions. IPBOX Screen indicates these conditions as set forth in the Personal Income Tax Act of 26 July 1991 and the Corporate Income Tax Act of 15 February 1992. IPBOX Screen is a simple, safe-to-use application available in versions for PC and mobile. Based on the responses provided, users will receive information on whether they can apply preferential taxation. The results of the analysis can be exported to a .pdf or Excel file.

MDR Scan

This tool helps identify whether a given arrangement is a tax scheme. It is designed for all entities required to report tax schemes. The tool was created by experts on tax law and is consistent with the guidelines of the Ministry of Finance. MDR Scan is a simple, safe-to-use application available in versions for PC and mobile. Users conduct the audit themselves, saving time and cost analyzing MDR. Based on Yes/No responses, the user will receive information on whether the given solution constitutes a tax scheme. If so, the app will indicate the type of scheme and whether it must be notified to the head of the National Revenue Administration. The result can then be exported a .pdf or Excel file.

Outsourcing Scan

This is an application using a question-and-answer interface to:  (1) Indicate whether a planned agreement is an outsourcing contract (2) Determine whether the outsourcing should be notified to the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (3) Check whether the outsourcing is permissible under the Insurance and Reinsurance Act, and  (4) Verify whether the outsourcing contract contains all essential elements. The app can also support verification that the selection of the contractor complies with the organization’s internal procedures.

The firm offers access to its LegalTech tools through an annual subscription or in packages tailored to the client’s specific needs. So far the LegalTech Platform offers three tools. The list of available products will grow in the near future. They currently function in Polish, but the firm soon plans to launch English versions as well.

Why is Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland counting on the growth of legal technology tools?

In recent years, many publications have stressed that “Polish lawyers are still analogue,” that they “take a moderately enthusiastic approach to the application of new technologies,” and “only a small group of law firms use advanced IT tools.” But the last year has revealed a huge shift in this area, as more and more law firms are offering their own solutions to make life easier for their clients, and more LegalTech tools for lawyers are also released.

In several recent reports on the LegalTech market and the use of technology in the legal industry, surveyed heads of legal departments indicated that the tech solutions they have access to often do not meet the needs arising from the specific nature of their work. Nonetheless, a clear majority of legal departments saw a need to implement tech solutions to streamline everyday management of the legal function. We have also heard such views from our clients for some time.

The growing number of regulations forces corporate legal departments to adjust their operations to a changing regulatory and legal environment, also greatly expanding the scope of their tasks and making it difficult to achieve improvements in time- and cost-efficiency without investing in new technologies and automated tools.

According to Ewa Szlachetka, co-managing partner of Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland, “Implementation of new technologies at law firms has become a necessity, particularly when our clients themselves are digital natives, who grew up with technology and never lived without it, and rely on tech solutions in their private and professional lives. Such clients have similar expectations from us as lawyers. They expect speed, precision and flexibility, greater efficiency and better prices for legal services. Lawyers who ignore the need to introduce tech solutions into their own work and in the services they offer to clients will within a few years no longer be capable of delivering services at the level demanded by all clients. In our market, a departure from ‘bespoke’ services, in favor of commoditization, through standardization, systematization and packaging, is unavoidable. Clients are not interested in paying for reinventing the wheel, and can obtain knowledge from relevant sources in order to act autonomously in a complex environment of legal regulations. Our products help with this and allow complex analyses to be carried out through selection of yes and no responses to guide them through the solutions prepared by our lawyers. The future belongs to those who display resourcefulness, openness and willingness to change in the way they deliver legal services. We work for innovators every day, so we ourselves must take an active approach to innovation—not just talk about innovations, but implement them ourselves, to keep up with the faster and faster evolving market and increasingly modern clients.”

Just like our clients, we face challenges connected with investments in new technologies, and work on development of new tools. We have largely prepared our tools on our own, in both the substantive and technological conceptions, drawing on the skills, passions and programming flair of our lawyers, supported of course by a professional developer responsible for similar projects.

According to Paweł Stykowski, inventor of the concept of the LegalTech Platform, “In today’s world, technology is so advanced that its use is limited only by our imagination. Our LegalTech Platform does not represent a technological breakthrough, but applies existing technologies to ends no one had thought of before. The applications available on the platform are designed to relieve in-house lawyers of repetitive tasks and also provide useful tools for the work of non-lawyers whose duties bring them into contact with legal issues.”

Implementation of innovative solutions within Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland, which we are a part of, has been developing technological tools for years, including tools based on artificial intelligence.

Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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